Spend some time with Lenny Matiak and you’ll see that he likes to joke around.
"When people bring in stuff like this and thinking I can put a new sole on it I say, ‘Well, sorry about that. Some souls I can save some I can’t’," said Matiak.
George Wright has been working with Lenny for 22 years.
"Under the tough exterior is a big heart, especially with his family," said Wright.
Lenny grew up very poor and being kicked out of high school at the age of 15 didn’t help matters.
"You just kind of wondered what you were gonna do as you get older-what’s my life gonna be like. So that’s one of those reasons why working with my hands you get to appreciate more," said Matiak.
Lenny’s career started with him shining shoes. He was then offered a job at George’s Shoe Repair where he worked for a few years before opening his own business. To date, he has been serving the La Crosse area for over 50 years.
Customers say Lenny takes his job seriously, always thinking of the customer. One day a customer came in with a limp and Lenny made him a specialized shoe. Word spread very quickly that Lenny could help people walk again.
Lenny has no plans of retiring but hopes to one day pass his business on to the right person.
"If a person’s got a lot of ambition and isn’t afraid to work and you’re willing to take on a challenge, even if it fails, get up and go again, try another one. If you work hard you’re gonna make it."